Customers decide to snitch on the five finger snatchers, lower shoplifting numbers

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, December 2, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- "We call it the old-fashioned five finger discount," K-Mart Store Manager Bill Long said.

It's an inevitable part of the shopping experience. Despite the already low prices, some will try to make a price of their own -- free.

"We had to a gentleman who was stealing some long johns, four pairs of long johns," Long said.

On the heels of the busiest shopping weekend of the year, you'd think the crowds would provide protective cover for those sneaky snatchers, but the numbers show it actually does the opposite.

"After pulling the statistics over the weekend, it appears we only had 12 shoplifting cases over the weekend," Sgt. Shane McDaniel said, Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

That covers all four shopping days in Richmond County, from early Thursday shoppers through Sunday night.

"I think 12 shoplifting cases from 8 o'clock Thanksgiving morning, to include Black Friday which is the busiest shopping day of the year, and then the weekend itself until Sunday midnight, 12 shoplifting cases I think is phenomenal," McDaniel said.

Long is the store manager of the Kmart on Gordon Highway. He says there are fewer stealers because this weekend there were more eyes.

"The issue there is a lot of people in the store, so it makes it harder for them to steal. When there's less people, they can go in corners or do different things, but when the store is so busy, it's hard for a thief to go in a certain corner if you've got people in that same corner shopping," he said.

It's a kind of community policing right in the store before deputies even get involved.

"A lot of people use their cell phones and call and ask for security or store manager," said Long.

While cameras capture what's going on in the store, and deputies patrol the floor and parking lot, Long says the best security is the other customer.

"It's not fair to the consumers when they steal stuff and it raises the prices on the honest people," Long said.

Under Georgia law, shoplifting doesn't just happen when a person leaves the store. Concealing an item even while you're inside the store or changing the price tag or container counts as shoplifting, too.

Long says stores look out for each other and will call the store next door to describe the person trying to steal from them and warn them to keep an eye out.

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